Iowa Supreme Court Affirms Lower Court’s Ruling on Experts in Medical Malpractice Action

Posted on: February 7th, 2022

This medical malpractice action arises from a stroke the plaintiff experienced following a surgery performed by Dr. Otoadese. After the plaintiff suffered the stroke, he was seen by Dr. Bekavac for a second opinion regarding his condition and whether he would have recommended the initial surgery. Dr. Bekavac also asked Dr. Halloran for his opinion and both physicians opined that they would not have recommended the surgery in light of the plaintiff’s condition.


The district court held that Dr. Bekavac could only testify regarding his treatment of the plaintiff and could not opine as to whether he thought the surgery was supported by the plaintiff’s condition. In addition, the court ruled that Dr. Halloran, who had not directly treated the plaintiff, could not testify.


In affirming the district court’s ruling, the Iowa Supreme Court held that the district court properly determined Dr. Bekavac and Dr. Halloran could not testify as treating physicians. The court reasoned that since the surgery had already been performed at the time the physicians arrived at their opinions, their opinions as to whether the plaintiff’s condition warranted the surgery did not affect their treatment of the plaintiff. Since the physicians did not arrive at their opinions as a necessary part of the treatment of the plaintiff, the court concluded that they were not treating physicians.


The court also held that the rules pertaining to discovery of an expert’s opinion applied to Dr. Bekavac and Dr. Halloran as they had taken a role in the litigation analogous to that of a retained expert. Since the plaintiff did not provide adequate disclosure of the nature of the physicians’ opinion, the court affirmed the district court’s ruling that Dr. Bekavac was limited to testifying concerning his treatment of the plaintiff and Dr. Halloran was prohibited from testifying in the matter.


McGrew v. Otoadese and Northern Iowa Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery Clinic, P.C., No. 19-2137 (Iowa Jan. 21, 2022)

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